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Fear and Lack of Creativity Prevented the NFL From Adding a Great Onside Kick Replacement

NFL owners voted down the 4th-and-15 alternative to the onside kick. Think about how much brain power goes to waste, as the NFL works to come up with great idea proposals that never see the light of day.

Only in the NFL could this congress of stuffed-shirt actuary wannabes throw together and implement something as abhorrent as reviewable pass interference and then table something as sensible as the fourth-and-15 onside kick proposal, which effectively died on the vine during Thursday’s league meetings according to our Albert Breer.

For those who may have missed it amid the endless blizzard of actual horrifying, stupefying and consequential news, the league went into Thursday’s virtual gathering with momentum gaining behind a proposal from the Philadelphia Eagles that would tack on to Rule 6, Article 1, Section 1, allowing trailing teams to attempt a fourth-and-15 conversion from their own 25-yard line after scoring a touchdown in lieu of an onside kick.

As we’ve discussed previously in this space, this was the perfect solution to a side effect of the league’s kickoff alterations. While the kickoff was rightfully tweaked in the name of safety, it clipped the onside kick, more than halving the already low success rate of teams attempting it over the last two years. Like the old extra point, the onside kick had, essentially, become a play that someone can bookmark for a bathroom break. The league’s data and analytics director, Michael Lopez, noted on Twitter Thursday teams kicking an expected onside kick are 0-for-104 in the last two years.

So of course, instead of doing what the league used to do during its glory days, considering first the fans and the overall benefit of the game, it was shoved through a political sausage grinder and liquified before it could emerge from the other side.

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This was about fear, plain and simple.

Fear from those who were worried about the kickoff going away altogether, which would inevitably dip into someone’s share of the kitty. Fear from those who know their general managers and coaches don’t have the personnel or creative engine to successfully convert one of these plays with regularity. Fear from the country club gang permanently spooked at the idea of having that rock and roll music played by the pool.

The NFL employs bright people who help draft these creative proposals that they don’t listen to. They hold contests for engineers and data scientists in order to gobble up intellectual property that ends up just sitting on a shelf. It’s difficult to fathom how much brain power ends up going to waste, while the game becomes clunkier and less entertaining as a result of these mental stalemates. This, from a league that, a mere 50 years ago, understood so brilliantly the taste of desperation and the importance of connecting with its audience.

So, join me, won’t you, in flicking off the television late in a two-score game should we have football this year. It’s not like much good is going to happen anyway.

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